More than 50 supporters lined Capitol Avenue for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy on Tuesday night prior to his first televised debate with Republican candidate Tom Foley. And even though Foley’s supporters were nowhere in sight, their candidate definitely showed up for the debate.
As the debate was held the same day Steven Hayes was convicted for his role in the murders of a Cheshire mother and her two daughters, the first question of the Fox 61/Courant debate was about where the candidates stood on the death penalty.
Malloy, a former prosecutor, said he supports repealing the death penalty for future executions. However, he said that the repeal approved by the legislature but later vetoed by Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2009 would not have applied to the cases against Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky.
Foley said if the legislature passed a bill abolishing capital punishment, he would veto it because there’s a chance Hayes and his co-defendant would be successful in appealing their death sentences. Malloy said the longest serving inmate on death row has been there for 22 years. “You can’t ensure anything’s going to happen,” Malloy said.
But even though the first question of the night was on the death penalty, it hardly dominated the debate as they two duked it out over their records in public office and the private sector.
Malloy and Foley have met each other dozens of times in forums and debates throughout the state and the two showed they new each others positions well. Several times they appeared to fall just short of calling each other a liar.
When asked to describe each other with one word, Malloy called Foley “rich” and Foley called Malloy “loose-with-the-truth.”
“People that know me, that’s not the first thing that would come to their mind,” Foley said in the post-debate spin room. “They say I’m kind, I’m caring, I take care of my friends, I’m trustworthy, I’m honest.”
Asked why he called Foley “rich,” Malloy said “it came into my mind and it’s true, as opposed to many of the things that he said.”
For the first time in a televised debate, Foley seemed to hammer home some Washington D.C. talking points he could have picked up while he was running for the U.S. Senate nomination earlier this year. Foley dropped his Senate bid in favor of a gubernatorial bid after Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced she wasn’t seeking re-election.
Toward the end of the debate Foley spoke about how the same party running Congress and the White House hasn’t worked out so well in Washington D.C. The remark garnered him some applause from the audience.
Former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons said by implying voters appreciate the balance of a Republican governor and Democratic legislature is Foley’s “ace in the hole.”
“The governor is the device you mount on the top of a machine to regulate the speed,” Simmons said in the spin room following the debate.
Foley said he’s been talking about acting as a balance to the Democratic legislature for a long time on the campaign trail.
“What does he offer that’s separate and apart that’s different from what these other folks have fed us all along?” Malloy asked, adding that Connecticut has been run by a Republican governor and Democratic legislature for the past 16 years.
“You could have listened to him today and understood that he was taking plays out of Karl Rove’s playbook,” Malloy said. “Did he actually tell you one cut he’d make in the budget? The answer is no.”
The two spent a good deal of time debating how many jobs Malloy created as mayor of Stamford and what happened to the Georgia textile mill Foley’s management group operated for several years before it went bankrupt.
Ned Lamont, who failed to garner the Democratic nomination in the governor’s race, said the media needs to be the arbitrator in that debate.
As far as his impressions on the first televised debate, Lamont said, “If you like hard-hitting back and forth it was feisty. If you don’t it was a little negative and nasty.”
“At the end of the day, on the issues, on the clarity of responses, on a real plan of action I think Dan won this debate hands down,” Lamont said.
He said Malloy is a pretty typical Democrat and Foley is a pretty typical Republican so there are still broad philosophical differences voters will have to deal with as they continue to make up their minds.
“Dan told us 20 percent of the way how we’re going to balance the budget and Tom told 15 percent of the way how we’re going to balance the budget, the other 85 to 80 percent you’re going to have to take on faith and make a judgment about these two folks and where they’re headed,” Lamont said.
Live blogging of the pre-debate and debate
6:20 p.m. Malloy addresses supporters before heading into the Bushnell for the debate. He tells them it’s about creating jobs and preserving the middle class. Foley’s campaign had no presence up and down Capitol Avenue. Independent candidate First Selectman Tom Marsh who was not invited to the debate had a handful of supporters holding signs alongside Malloy supporters.
Foley supporters like former Hartford City Councilman Michael McGarry said Foley’s campaign and supporters were drinking at Arch Street Tavern. Foley’s bus honked at Malloy supporters as it drove by.
6:45 p.m. Former US Rep. Rob Simmons, who failed to garner the Republican nomination in the U.S. Senate race, is now working for Fox61 and the Courant as a political pundit. On the Democratic side Ned Lamont, who failed this year to garner his party’s nomination for governor, is also working for Fox 61 and the Courant.
6:54 p.m. The candidates are introduced. Malloy gets a standing ovation and Foley’s supporters join the standing crowd as their candidate takes the stage.
6:58 p.m. Candidates are doodling notes as we wait for the debate to begin.
7:01 p.m. Breaking news. First question goes to Foley. It’s about the death penalty.
Foley: I do think it discourages crimes. Our correction officers are safer. “I also think there’s a fundamental sense of justice.” Even if it excluded them (Cheshire defendants) they would have solid case for why it would apply to them.
7:03 p.m. Malloy expresses grief to Petit family. Any legislation I would sign, these two gentleman if sentence to death that sentence would be carried out. Period.
No ones going to protect your family as well as I would. Foley playing politics.
Foley counters that if death penalty is abolished it would not apply or an argument could be made to that effect.
Commercials: Foley’s ad “Three lies in 30-seconds.”
Malloy: Mr. Foley doesn’t like to tell the whole truth. What we did take old industrial city and change into a financial center of the world. Our city so strong Tom actually moved his company there. Nobody watching doesn’t believe Stamford a great place to live and work.
7:08 p.m. Foley I like Stamford, but Dan is misrepresenting his record. Stamford lost 13,384 jobs. Foley Stamford has largest achievement gap of any city. Loose with the truth.
7:10 Foley on Malloy campaign ad regarding Bibb, a Georgia textile mill his management company ran. Objective here is to scare state workers. State workers have nothing to fear from me being governor. We can cut state government through attrition. You have nothing to worry about if I’m governor, Foley told the unions.
7:11 p.m. Malloy: Tom was responsible. After Tom was done with the Bibb Company the town of Bibb disappeared. The people who live in that town actually know what you did. You destroyed their lives, jobs, town. As for the claim he’s not a politician, you were involved in politics when I was still in high school.
Foley: Bibb Co. didn’t go out of business. It went through a financial restructuring no workers were laid off.
Malloy: It was really unfair for you to walk away with $20 million when people lost their pensions.
7:14 Question on jobs. How are you going to get and keep high-tech jobs?
Foley: Wrong policies, unresponsive state bureaucracy. We have an out of control legislature. It takes 24 months to get a permit with the Department of Environmental Protection to expand. When I’m governor I will fix these things. Lot of employers want to be here if government would just get off their backs.
Malloy: Consolidating three broken agencies supposed to be doing economic development. RBS, Purdue, Nestle, Starwood, NBC, maybe hire somebody whose actually done the things Tom is talking about. Make sure we benchmark every tax we have. Benchmark regulations. Most job creation will be done by small businesses, a majority will be run by women and people of color.
7:17 p.m. Foley: We need to reduce spending not raise taxes. That’s how to lure companies.
7:18 p.m. Malloy: He makes some good points then leads you to things that are not true. You need to know how government actually works in the state of Connecticut, live within our means set our priorities.
7:19 p.m. Budget Question.
Malloy: Most of those unions did not support me in the primary because they’re afraid Tom is going to do what he did to the Bibb Co. down in Georgia. He would cut 600 executive agency jobs. Move IT structures. Purchasing electric energy differently. Get everyone to the table, the same employees want to play a role in turning this state around.
Foley: I don’t agree long term problems, we can solve this immediately. If I’m governor I would decease incarceration rates. Community based long term care verses nursing home care. There’s a lot of waste in our government. Two cellphones lost state employees, $31,000 wasted. Save that $2 billion
Malloy: He didn’t give you a single cut. I’ve had to disappoint people we’re going to reshape Connecticut
Foley: First it was the governor’s staff, then it was 7500, now it’s 600?
Malloy: Tom you really don’t understand government. There’s a lot riding out there for the middle class.
Foley: Really need to do more homework if you want to run for governor.
7:26 p.m. Question state employee benefits.
Malloy: Tom keeps referring to 60 percent of payroll and benefits, because our state government failed to fund benefits for those hired before 1984 (He’s talking about the unfunded pension liability). Adopt structural change. GAAP accounting. Those privatization experiments, drainage systems of I-84, school construction projects. We need to create efficiencies.
Foley: Riverview Hospital 80 young patients. $922,000 a year to care for each of these young people, private outside contractor will to do it for less.
Malloy: Riverview existed as it has under Republican administration 16 years.
7:30 p.m. Questions from the candidates to each other.
Foley to Malloy. Have you made any commitments to the unions? Please give me a yes or no answer. Malloy answers No.
Malloy: If you want to make teachers the enemy you go ahead. Tom you are so disconnected from the people of this state’s it’s so unbelievable.
Foley: Widely believed you have made commitments to unions and it would be difficult to be candid with the voters.
Malloy: The fact that you repeat things more than three times doesn’t make it true.
Carl Cameron asks the audience and the candidates to quiet back down
Malloy to Foley: Why did you leave it up the way you did if you don’t agree with everything Mark Boughton stands for?
Foley: I didn’t choose a running mate. It’s also important for people to understand the governor sets the policy. What I promise to voters is what the voters will get. Mark very qualified for the job. Our resumes fit together perfectly. Talked to him about how we’d divide responsibilities. He would focus on municipalities.
Malloy: It’s okay that your runningmate is anti-choice and doesn’t support the minimum wage. Our governor was previously lieutenant governor, what your lack of leadership did endangering welfare of the people of this state.
7:36 p.m. Foley: you have no one in your government that’s met a payroll. You’re missing important part of experience on the ticket.
Logan Brynes question on achievement gap and education.
Malloy: I signed application for two charter schools in the city of Stamford. Larger closure. 70 percent of the 10th graders reading and performing at grade level. Tom doesn’t know how to read that document.
Foley: Involved in education over 15 years. I want to be known as jobs and education governor. Important school reforms. We need school choice. We need money following the child. We need performance pay for teachers. We need to measure teachers performance. We need to find out a way to retire them from the system. The charter schools Dan talks about are unionized. And he said he doesn’t support Race to the Top funding.
Malloy: The charter schools are state charter schools. We closed gap state dollars going to institution. Race to the Top of course I support it.
Foley: You just can’t tell the audience what they want to hear.
Question: Why do you want to be governor. Which policy decision do you most dread?
Foley: One of things most proud of business career made those decisions fairly. Take into account families, never trade long term for the short term. I have a plan, I was surprised when I got into this race, none of the other candidates had a plan. I know based on my private sector experience, two terms serving in government I know I can fix these things now.
Malloy: Born middle class family youngest of eight children. Obligation leave this world a better place. Toughest decisions are are the ones that effect people’s lives, who will have a job, who will lose health care.
Question: Things Rell has done right.
Malloy: Rell restored a sense of decency. Transportation, job creation, reformation of education, she fails. She’s a wonderful person but it’s time to change direction. I’ve laid out 72 pages of policy. Can we do all of the things in the first year? No. I’m going to take state in different direction. Local governments partners not our enemies.
Foley: Last week your policy was 17 pages long.
Malloy: You can go on the Internet that is simply not true.
Crowd gets rowdy.
Foley: I would have vetoed the budget last year. Single party overwhelming control of the House and the Senate. Waited until they saw results of primary and gave him $3 million more dollars, kind of abuse we’re getting in our legislature. We need check and balance in Hartford to get our legislature under control.
Malloy: A majority of the governor’s vetoes were actually upheld. Never overridden on a spending bill. Malloy explains legislature’s vote on public campaign financing. Maximum $9 million and the legislature limited it to $6 million. People like you not willing to tell the whole truth.
Foley: I really mean what I said. Democracy in Connecticut not being well-served by have one party control of one branch. Single party in Washington controls the Congress and the White House and that’s not working so well. Applause.
One word describe your opponent:
He said it’s one word because it’s hyphenated.
Debate is wrapping up with closing arguments. Foley goes first Malloy will follow.
Join us soon for the after debate spin, which will have Malloy describing himself as a change agent and Foley describing himself as an outsider.